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Nick Nelson

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    Nick Nelson reacted to Sherry Cerny for a blog entry, Hit Hard, Run Fast, and Start Bunting! (Tonight's Game and Why it's a Must Win)   
    The Twins have had a tough go since leaving Detroit. With only two wins in the past eleven games, going into tonight this is a MUST WIN GAME. Yes, it’s the National league, YES, they are not playing in our division, but we are needing a win right now. The central league play and teams are messy at best and we can put ourselves in a spot where we can begin to come back and fight for the number one spot. Tonight we need to pull things together to get that W and be prepared for the Indians early next week, but we have a few things we need to fix if we are going to do that.
     
    JA Happ is going to be pitching tonight and over his past two games, he certainly hasn’t sucked, but he hasn’t been stupendous. He came out in the fourth against Detroit and against Boston, showing that once again the arms that are starting the games are built for longevity to get us through at least the 6th. The bullpen seems to be getting more of a workout again than necessary and the starters need to have a more solid performance or we will continue to exhaust our bullpen.
     
    We need to be more pragmatic about our hitting. Not every single hit needs to be a Bomba...it’s fun, don’t get me wrong. I am not a Bomba hater, that being said, our defense is saving us at times and our offense is lagging. We need to be hitting into the shifts and the gaps to get on base. One of our biggest downfalls is getting guys on base, and the big hitters coming in and trying for homers and leaving us stranded. We aren’t going to win games by striking out because we want to be heroes, just put the ball in play. {oh, and BUNT IN EXTRA INNINGS!}
    The defense is one of the better treasures of this team, even with the management making stupid decisions like pulling Donaldson who was doing just fine at third against the A’s. As much as I love having good utility players, it pains me to see such horrible decisions made by management in critical situations. That’s what spring training is for, not middle of the tenth, up by two with big hitters from the other team coming up. Buxton, while healthy, has made some incredible plays that would be great to be backed up with hits and runs. Simmons should be coming off the IL soon, but with Kep and Sano going onto the IL, we circle back to our training site and the need for calling up kids like Nick Gordon for the first time.
     
    I am curious to see what tonight brings for the guys. It’s pivotal in this early part of the season that we dig in, find our swing and make better managerial decisions if we intend to pull out of this slump and start contending for our place in the Division and American League standings.
  2. Like
    Nick Nelson reacted to Nash Walker for a blog entry, Sensational Sano   
    On an 0-1 count in the bottom of the ninth inning, Miguel Sano crushed a 443 foot home run to help the Twins defeat the Braves 5-3 on Monday. Jake Odorizzi went six full innings and allowed just one run on a Freddie Freeman gift to the short left field porch. Trevor May was phenomenal in two innings of work, and Max Kepler blasted his 31st homer of the season. What does this win really mean?
     
    1. If you did not already know, the Twins are one of the best teams in baseball.
    Atlanta is in first place in the NL East with a record of 66-47 and have one of the most potent lineups in the league. Ronald Acuña Jr., Josh Donaldson, Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies round out a terrifying core. This is a true World Series ready team and the Twins sat them down in game one.
     
    2. The pressure is back on Cleveland
    While the Twins battled, the Indians fell to Mike Minor and the Rangers by a score of 1-0. The Tribe were -170 favorites at home and their offense faltered. With Jose Berrios on the hill for Minnesota tomorrow, the heat finds the Indians once again as the division lead is back to four games.
     
    3. The biggest week of the season started in the best possible way
    What is better than an electrifying win against a really good squad on the Monday of your most crucial week on the home stretch? Nothing! The Twins will host the Indians later this week for four games and hope to enter with their current four game lead, or possibly more?
     
    The Special Season continues, and the Twins have won their 70th game. Enjoy it, Twins fans.
  3. Like
    Nick Nelson reacted to dwade for a blog entry, Beginner's Luck? How Rookie Managers Typically Perform   
    How much sleep do you think Rocco Baldelli got Wednesday night?
     
    Sure, this is far from his first Opening Day, but there will be plenty of firsts involved in it: His first regular-season lineup card, his first win or loss in charge of a club, and who knows, maybe even his first managerial ejection.
     
    Like six other teams, the Twins enter 2019 with a manager looking to complete their first full season with the team. Of the seven new bosses, only one has completed a full MLB season for another team – Brad Ausmus, whose time with the Tigers he’d likely prefer to be stricken from the record – and while the expectations for Cardinals manager Mike Shildt are notably higher than they are for the Rangers’ Chris Woodward, it’s good to have a frame of reference for how first-year managers typically do.
     
    Rather than wading through the entire universe of MLB managers, then trying to make judgments about how similar a given era is to the modern game, I’ve looked at the current managerial cohort, all of whom joined their current teams this decade…except Bruce Bochy, who will be stepping aside at the end of this season. (Some managers go out on top, but Bochy – who owns three World Series rings and took the Padres to a fourth – looks set to do the opposite as the Giants are not exactly well-positioned in the NL West.)
     
    Managers making their true debut do reasonably well, but generally unremarkably so, in their first season. Their median record, 82-80, in those maiden seasons is unlikely to produce a playoff run; it’s also unlikely to get them pelted with rotten fruit in the streets. Extend that pace over the course of 20 years, however, and you end up in the company of venerable managers like Jim Leyland and Buck Showalter.
     
    But what happens when a manager takes over a new team, irrespective of whether they’ve managed before? Virtually nothing: Managers in their first season with a new team pilot them to a median mark of 80-82. No playoffs, no fruit in the streets, live to manage another day as long as you don’t make a habit of it. Still, .494 is a better career winning percentage than Tom Kelly, Eric Wedge, or Larry Bowa had.
     
    Mentioning Kelly as a manager who produced below-average results might get you run out of Minnesota on a rail, but it illustrates a meaningful point: If Baldelli wants a long managerial career, he’s better off having up and down stretches rather than being consistently mediocre. Kelly’s highs are obvious and memorable – Flags Fly Forever as the saying goes – but his lows are probably worse and more frequent than most would guess. Of his 13 full seasons as Twins manager – dropping strike-shortened 1994 and ‘95 and his partial season in ’86 – Kelly had 88 or more losses in six of them.
     
    Obviously there are myriad factors at play in any manager’s record, many of which are out of their control, and a managerial platoon of Joe McCarthy and Charlie Comiskey couldn’t have redeemed the 1999 Twins, but it’s proof that high enough highs will buy almost any manager the margin they need to have a few abject failures in their career.
     
    Assuming he ends up near the median for first-year managers, Baldelli can be expected to win about 81 games. On Opening Day Eve, PECOTA has the team projected for 82 wins, as does Fangraphs, and that feels about right given what the team showed in Spring Training. It would take a miracle of no small scale for him to best Alex Cora’s 108 wins in his first season as manager and a disaster of equivalent size for Joe Maddon’s 101 losses with the 2006 Rays to be in play. This doesn’t mean Baldelli won’t have an impact on the Twins’ performance this year, but what he has will largely determine where in the middle third of the bell curve he falls rather than whether the team is a success or a failure.
  4. Like
    Nick Nelson reacted to Twins and Losses for a blog entry, No, We Don't All Look Alike   
    I really didn’t think I needed to write this article. I really didn’t think I’d let the awful commentary on social media get to me. I figured it would die down after a few days. I was wrong. Very wrong. For having signed two notable named Asian players, Twins Territory (and what I hope is a very vocal minority[see what I did there?]) sure is up-in-arms about potentially signing two more.
     
    With the news of the Twins actively pursuing both Yu Darvish (who comes with his own set of health concerns) and Shohei Ohtani (a young Japanese phenom who can pitch and hit), there seems to be a few comments on every article or Twitter comment thread about the fears of signing another Asian ballplayer.
     
    For being one of the largest continents on the planet (even encompassing parts of Russia), Asia is made up of 48 different countries. Some of the bigger countries of note are China, Russia, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and South Korea. Huh. There are a lot of countries in Asia where the people who reside there sure don’t look alike. In fact, they don’t even speak the same language or share a government.
     
    But for Twins fans, it’s been an almost daily occurrence where some Rube (see: casually racist social media user) has made a comment about not taking a chance on another Asian ballplayer since Tsuyoshi Nishioka and ByungHo Park didn’t pan out in the major leagues.
     
    Injuries aside, and the fact that they “look alike” (which they don’t at all, unless you just see a tan skinned person with black hair who comes from the same continent and assume they’re from the exact same place), the Twins have the potential to sign a possible once-in-a-lifetime player in Shohei Ohtani, and a 4-time All Star in Yu Darvish. Improvements to the one part of the team Twins fans have complained about improving for almost a decade: pitching.
     
    I jumped ahead though. Let’s go back to Nishioka and Park. Nishioka is a Japanese baseball player who plays in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, based in Japan. Byung-Ho Park is a Korean baseball player who plays in the Korean Baseball Organization, based in Korea. While those two countries are relatively close to each other, they are not the same.
     
    Neither are the Caucasian, Latino, and African ballplayers that have come through the Twins’ organization over the years, in much larger quantities too. Some Twins fans are now basing their choice to not pursue Ohtani specifically, based on the fact Nishioka and Park didn’t work out. Seems like an incredibly small sample size to base your opinion on, and it also comes off as racist. I don’t see these same people crying wolf that the Twins shouldn’t have chased after Royce Lewis, Hunter Greene, or Brendan McKay based on the fact that former Caucasian and African-American players didn’t pan out. If it didn’t matter then, why should it matter where Ohtani comes from?
     
    The Twins have an opportunity to sign a superstar ballplayer to join an already impressive young core of talent from the across the planet. Take a look at the Twins’ 25-man roster this season and see what countries all of the players that helped contribute to a postseason berth for the first time since 2010 call home. After you’ve done that, find it in yourself to consciously stop using the “Nishioka and Park” argument against signing Ohtani. If you’re incapable of doing so because you can’t figure out how to say you don’t trust an unproven player with no MiLB or MLB experience (there, I figured it out for you!), then maybe you should keep your awful opinions to yourself.
     
    And no, we don’t all look alike.
     
    – Panda Pete (South Korean)
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